Outrage As ZIMRA Impounds Lifesaving Equipment
5 March 2020
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By Ezra Tshisa Sibanda

THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) on Sunday seized training equipment for doctors and nurses at Mpilo Central Hospital demanding £3 000 duty from an international organisation that sourced the kit for kidney biopsy.

This is shocking and a huge embarrassment to the country.

Over the past two decades, Zimbabwe’s healthcare system has deteriorated from being one of the best in Africa to one that needs all hands on deck if it’s going to get back the capacity to save lives. And as the ongoing Coronavirus epidemic has shown, a crisis in one power of the world can quickly spread to the rest of the world. So people in London and California can no longer say they don’t care about poor healthcare systems in Africa.

Zimbabwe has friends who say they are willing to do their part to help. That’s why Dr Nitin Kolhe and team from the Royal Derby Hospital in the United Kingdom are currently in the country’s second City Bulawayo training professionals from around Zimbabwe at Mpilo hospital in renal medicine.

It’s said Dr Kolhe wants to make the trip to Bulawayo, a yearly event and could even bring more of his colleagues to share global best practice in nephrology.

It’s therefore crucial that the way we handle visitors as a country reflects our hospitality values of Ubuntu, courtesy as well as efficiency, because that’s who we are. To do this means we must be organised and demonstrate integrity at all times.

Dr Kolhe and team didn’t need to face problems upon arrival. The hosting hospital should have applied for duty free certificates for the equipment in advance. I’m told, the Minister of Health Dr Obadiah Moyo, who has a special interest in renal medicine and Dr Mhlanga intervened when ZIMRA kept the equipment the delegation had.

These processes must not wait for a crisis or for the Ministry of Health to intervene. It gives the country a bad name and has the potential to frustrate those trying to help.

Our ZIMRA officials have an important job to do. In more ways than one, they are the face of Zimbabwe, a new visitor to the country is likely to meet, together with immigration officers. ZIMRA therefore can’t afford to have officers with cold and toxic attitudes.

I’ve had my experiences with ZIMRA and all I can say, as someone whose well travelled: Commissioner General Faith Mazani has a difficult job at her hands and needs to clean up the whole department. But I’m sure there are some who can be retrained in customer care and how to be ambassadors for our beautiful country.

Confisticating the equipment by Zimra was out of order and exposed how broken the system is.

Mpilo CEO was a big let down in all this. He failed to seek clearance for the equipment yet her knew months ago about the tour by health professional volunteers all the way from United Kingdom. These professionals are in Zimbabwe just to offer their services for free. What made the situation worse is the non availability of hard working Mpilo Hospital Clinical Director Solwayo Ngwenya who is currently on leave. Dr Ngwenya is the pillar of Mpilo Hospital and nothing moves when he is away. I’m really concerned about what will happen if he resigns and dumps Mpilo Hospital seeing that Botswana Government wants him high and low to come & join their health department.